The Importance Of Loneliness

lonely1“Loneliness is the inability to share your story, your Unique Self story. For most people, the move beyond loneliness requires us to share our story with a significant other. For the spiritual elite, the receiving of our own story — and the knowing that it is an integral part of the larger story of All-That-Is — is enough. But for most human beings, loneliness is transcended through contact with another person.” — Marc Gafni

Your Supreme Identity is calling to you from the essence of all things. It is your own essence, your deepest and most complete autobiography, your life story not only told but lived and constantly recreated. It is the force which not only remedies loneliness and gives us solace in our solitude.

Paul Tillich once wrote: “Language… has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.”

Being alone is part of the human condition in which we are often at our saddest, full of shame or fear or anger. It does not require us to be physically isolated; we can be desperately lonely in a crowd or amid loved ones if we have been prevented from being our true selves.

Loneliness is an impoverishment in the midst of the riches of community. It is a sign of a disconnect between the individual and community, perhaps caused by family strife or an inability to find a religious community in which one finds a home. If we find ourselves without community, our loneliness can provide the motivation for creating new communities of connection and love and acceptance.

Gafni notes that the original Hebrew word for “lonely” is levado which is sometimes understood as referring not only to humans but to God. God without a created world is levado, God’s own loneliness. Only human evolution and divine evolution can happen only when each take the other as a beloved.

Gay and transgender people have the opportunity to learn important life lessons from our loneliness. We have been told from our earliest years that a very important part of who we are — our sexual and/or gender identities — are not welcome to be expressed and accepted. We disown a part of ourselves that is part of our essence, a sacred part of All-That-Is as it is manifesting as and through us.

Some of us defiantly blast through society’s rejection into a remarkable form of pride. Others repress the parts of themselves that they are afraid to show the world. Either way, loneliness may threaten to destroy us. We may become isolated and alone in physical and emotional and spiritual levels.

Walk into any bar, gay or straight, and the sight of someone sitting alone conjures up our judgments about loneliness. Do we view him or her as pathetic, someone who must be friendless … a loser? Or do we view them as someone comfortable in their solitude, every bit as much a part of the community as anyone else?

Some spiritual elites teach that loneliness is a type of spiritual dysfunction which can be overcome by knowledge of the sacred role of loneliness in the divine drama or the nature of enlightenment. In other words, we are all perfectly complete in ourselves if we understand our Supreme Identity, and so when we are lonely we accept that fact as an integral, natural experience.

So much is true, I think, but it shortchanges the way in which evolution in our spiritual life can be measured by the degree to which we overcome loneliness and find ourselves in loving union, connection with other human beings, nature, and spiritual realities. This involves sharing our stories and our spiritual autobiographies with other people in a major way, and finding a receptive audience which listens and approves and loves.


Photo Credit: Cia de Foto via Compfight cc

About Joe Perez

Chief Blogger, Gay Spirituality. Joe Perez is a Seattle-based author, blogger, poet, language creator, and Scholar-in-Residence at the Center for Integral Wisdom. His spiritual memoir Soulfully Gay is published by Integral Books/Shambhala. He is an Honors graduate of Harvard University and has earned a Certificate in Integral Leadership from Pacific Integral. [Full Bio].

  • Santos Ruiz

    Love the article ! It speaks volumes of human experience , not only as individuals, but as a whole .